Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.


Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

Sunday, April 17, 2016


This Sunday's Readings


First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 13:14,43-52
Paul and Barnabas preach the good news among the Gentiles and are expelled by the Jews.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 100:1-2,3,5
A song in praise of God who shepherds us.

Second Reading
Revelation 7:9,14b-17
John describes his vision of the praises that the holy ones sing to the Lamb.

Gospel Reading
John 10:27-30
Jesus describes his care for his sheep.

Background on the Gospel Reading

The fourth Sunday of Easter is also called Good Shepherd Sunday. In each of the three lectionary cycles, the Gospel is taken from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter of John's Gospel follows Jesus' healing of the man born blind and the rejection of this miracle by Jewish leaders who question Jesus' authority to heal. Jesus responds to this challenge to his authority by calling himself the Good Shepherd. He is criticizing the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders. Already, the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders are so angered that they attempt to stone and arrest Jesus (see John 10:31 and 10:39). This controversy with the religious leaders continues until Jesus' death.

Set in a moment of tension and conflict in John's Gospel, today's Gospel reading is Jesus' answer to the question, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus responds by saying, in essence, “If you have to ask, then you are not one of my sheep.” Then Jesus asserts his unity with the Father. At the conclusion of these words, John reports that the Jews intend to stone Jesus for blasphemy, but he escapes arrest.

We may be less familiar with the metaphors of sheep and shepherd than those to whom Jesus spoke. The image of Jesus as Good Shepherd and the community of followers as his sheep has endured over the centuries as a primary image in our faith tradition. Its power to describe the relationship between Jesus and his followers transcends direct experience with sheep. The image speaks to us about the protection, security, and care that shepherds represent for their sheep.

Today's Gospel speaks powerfully about the familiarity and intimacy between Jesus and his disciples, expressed as recognizing and knowing another's voice. Today's Gospel also speaks to the relationship between Jesus and the Father. In the Gospel of John, Jesus identifies so closely with the Father that he tells us that they are one—not just close, but actually one. To know Jesus is to know the Father. Jesus doesn't just bring us closer to the Father, Jesus puts us directly into contact with God the Father, removing all distance between us. Our relationship with Jesus is an invitation to share in the life of God.


Gospel Reading
John 10:27-30
Jesus describes his care for his sheep.


Making the Connection (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

Young children are familiar with emergency and warning signals that protect them. We can use this experience to teach them that Jesus will also protect us from sin and death if we listen and follow him.

Materials Needed

  • Picture of Jesus

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask for volunteers to imitate the sound of a train whistle, an ambulance siren, and a tornado warning signal. Discuss what dangers they alert us to and how they protect us if we obey them.

  2. Ask: If we ignore the warning of a train whistle, refuse to move out of the way of a speeding ambulance, or fail to go to shelter in a tornado, what might happen to us? (We could get hurt or even die.)

  3. Show a picture of Jesus. Say: Jesus protects us from danger, too. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us how he will protect us. Let's listen carefully.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, John 10:27-30.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus say he will do for his sheep? (give them eternal life, protect them, and so on)

  6. Say: If we listen to Jesus, we will come to love and follow him. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus will protect us by sharing with us life that will last forever in heaven.

  7. Pray together that you will all one day share the eternal life promised by Jesus. Pray together the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.


Gospel Reading
John 10:27-30
Jesus describes his care for his sheep.


Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

Older children use their lived experience to learn about the divine. In their capacity to know one another well we can invite them to consider the relationship between Jesus and those of us who are his followers.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Play this guessing game. Ask the children to put their heads down on their desk, eyes covered. When all eyes are covered, choose one volunteer to speak aloud. Ask the rest of the group to guess the name of the speaker. Play the game several times so a number of voices are identified.

  2. Say: Was it easy or difficult to identify the voices you heard? We have to know a person pretty well to be able to recognize her voice without seeing her.

  3. Say: This is what Jesus describes in today's Gospel, his close relationship with his followers. Let's listen carefully to this Gospel.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, John 10:27-30.

  5. Ask: How does Jesus describe the relationship he has with his sheep? (The sheep hear Jesus' voice and follow him; Jesus knows his sheep.) What does Jesus do for his sheep? (He protects them, and he gives them eternal life.) How does Jesus describe his relationship with the Father? (They are one.)

  6. Say: We are Jesus' followers; we are the sheep he is talking about in today's Gospel. Jesus knows us as well as our family and our best friends. When we share eternal life, we will be closer to God as well. We will see God as he is and share fully in the life of God.

  7. Pray together that you will all one day share fully in the life of God. Pray together the Act of Hope.


Gospel Reading
John 10:27-30
Jesus describes his care for his sheep.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are developing in their capacity to have close relationships with others, and they are growing in their capacity to be in close relationship with Jesus.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Invite the young people to reflect on the progression that new relationships tend to follow. Ask: What questions might you ask a person you are meeting for the first time? (What is your name? What grade are you in? What school do you attend?) What are things about a person that you might find out later? (the number of people in their family; more about their background; their favorite subject in school; their hobbies and interests; and so on)

  2. Observe that as relationships grow and develop we come to know more and more about each other. Say: When a friend starts calling your house, usually you must ask who is calling. At some point, however, you know each other well enough that you no longer need to identify yourself on the phone. Observe that recognizing another person's voice is an indication of a developing relationship with that person.

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus refers to this knowledge of another's voice as a description of his relationship with his followers. Let's listen carefully to hear what Jesus says.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud today's Gospel, John 10:27-30.

  5. Ask: What are the metaphors Jesus uses in today's Gospel to describe his relationship with his followers? (sheep and shepherd; recognizing voices) What kinds of things do these metaphors represent to us? (knowledge, protection, and security)

  6. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus also describes his relationship with the Father. How does Jesus describe this relationship? (He says they are one.) This means that to know Jesus is to know the Father. Jesus doesn't just bring us closer to the Father, Jesus puts us directly into contact with God the Father, removing all distance between us. Throughout our life, we hope and pray that we will grow ever closer to God as we learn to follow Jesus more fully.

  7. Conclude in prayer by praying together the following prayer. Ask the young people to repeat each line after you.
    Lord, let me know clearly
    The work which you are calling me to do in life.
    And grant me every grace I need to answer your call
    With courage and love and lasting dedication to your will.
    Amen.


Gospel Reading
John 10:27-30
Jesus describes his care for his sheep.


Family Connection

Not only can we recognize family members' voices, we can also read the tone of their voices and know something about how they are feeling. In our relationship with Jesus, we know Jesus' voice and are called to follow. Jesus doesn't just bring us closer to the Father, Jesus puts us directly into contact with God the Father, removing all distance between us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus identifies so closely with the Father that he tells us that they are one—not just close, but actually one. Knowing Jesus means knowing the Father.

Read with your family today's Gospel, John 10:27-30. Ask your family members to talk about some ways that Jesus brings them closer to God and closer to one another. Pray together the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.